The Challenge of Human Rights
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The Challenge of Human Rights

Past, Present and Future

Edited by David Keane and Yvonne McDermott

The Challenge of Human Rights takes a detailed and exploratory approach to topics across the field of human rights, and seeks to map a path for future research and policy development.
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Chapter 15: Cultural Rights – A New Era

Majella Ni Chriochain


15. Cultural rights: A new era Majella Ní Chríocháin Cultural rights have long been the most neglected of human rights, in terms  of their theoretical treatment and their implementation. While they are invariably included in the triad ‘Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’, they somehow disappear in the discourse. Even in the scant literature on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, cultural rights feature little, if at all. In her exhaustive review of human rights institutions and committees, Stamatopoulou found that in most instances they had paid insufficient attention to cultural rights.1 Her review of the reports of the Commission on Human Rights (now Human Rights Council) since 1990 revealed a lack of understanding and little interest in cultural rights, with very few exceptions.2 This is despite the fact that cultural rights, particularly the cultural rights of individuals, have been universally recognized in international law as fundamental human rights and are provided for in a host of international and regional instruments.3 The Vienna Declaration also affirms that all human rights are ‘universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated’ and that they must be treated globally ‘in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis.’4 In this paper, I will first set out the content of cultural rights, before examining why it is that cultural rights have been so long neglected. Five human rights are generally understood as cultural rights: 1 Stamatopoulou’s comprehensive review of the right to take part in cultural life is a vital...

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